Who out there remembers the Gordon Lightfoot song, “If you could read my mind”? If you’re singing it in your mind right now, you’ll recall the next line was “…what a tale my thoughts could tell”.
I was a big fan back in the day and even went to hear him in concert live. Then I bought a book of his music and tried to teach myself (unsuccessfully) to play the guitar.
The song – which remains etched into my mind after all that – is about feelings that have been lost and ghosts from wishing wells and paperback novels and…well, other things that don’t apply here.
But the part about “what a tale our thoughts could tell”? That, I can relate to.
I’m one of those “worst-case scenario” people. I can tie myself up in knots over stuff that hasn’t even happened yet (and may not). Those of you who know me are rolling your eyes and nodding in recognition.
Who knows why I’m like that – maybe the profession I chose and the experiences that came with it, or maybe just some random worry-wart DNA. I can go to a dark place fairly quickly and find myself wringing my hands over issues that are way above my pay grade, so to speak.
That’s pretty unproductive and not at all healthy. My thoughts do not tell a very trusting tale. Before you remind me, I already know: worry and fear are sins.
There are reasons Christians are told not to worry or fear. Both are like megaphones announcing our lack of trust in God and implying we have some kind of control ourselves.
Worry suggests that everything – whether it goes right or wrong – is somehow up to us. And fear not only assumes limits on the power of God, it questions His goodness.
I’m not suggesting we overlook the importance of doing all we can to make wise choices. It’s good to be smart about things like personal safety and the health of our relationships. I’m just noting the ridiculousness of taking it to the extreme I do.
So here’s what I’m doing about it: I’m inviting God to inhabit my thoughts. If He were the one influencing my thinking, I doubt it would get away from me as it does.
If God were to inhabit my thoughts, this is what I think would happen:
- When I get overwhelmed, I’d realize many of the expectations placed on me are self-imposed. I’d “right-size” them…or let them go.
- When I start to fixate on what could go wrong, I’d remind myself negative thoughts are paralyzing – and not from God. I’d refocus on what’s likely to go right.
- When I worry about what people will think, I’d remember I’m answerable first to God. I’d look for ways to please Him and trust that the rest will follow.
- When I’m tempted to make a flippant or hurtful comment, I’d consider the possible impact (Proverbs 18:21) on both my “target” and myself. I’d keep quiet instead of having to undo damage later.
I think I’ll work on the “tale my thoughts could tell” by inviting God to inhabit those thoughts on a daily basis. I’m pretty sure His version will be much better than mine. (Or Gordon Lightfoot’s.)
How might your thinking change if God were to inhabit your thoughts?
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